WASHINGTON (AP) — The 2018 midterm elections introduced the nation to some electrifying candidates. Beto O’Rourke, the skateboarding liberal, charmed voters in Texas, while Stacey Abrams in Georgia and Andrew Gillum in Florida had the chance to make history.
But as of Wednesday, none of those rock stars had won. Instead, some less flashy sleeper candidates racked up big victories. You may not have heard their names during the campaign, but you’ll probably hear them again.
TONY EVERS, WISCONSIN GOVERNOR-ELECT
The former teacher and state superintendent, 67, ousted former Republican star Scott Walker on Tuesday, denying the one-time presidential candidate a third term and succeeding where Democrats had thrice failed — including a 2012 recall that Walker survived.
Evers used his folksy, nondescript personality to his advantage, using words like “jeepers” and “holy mackerel” while arguing that voters were tired of divisiveness and yearned for more collegial politics.
The win gives Democrats a boost after President Donald Trump narrowly carried Wisconsin by less than 1 percentage point in 2016. It also puts Evers in position to dismantle much of what Walker and Republicans did over the past eight years, including a law that effectively ended collective bargaining for public workers.
Walker’s steep fall ended what some called the “Cheesehead Revolution,” which included the rise of House Speaker Paul Ryan and former Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus. Ryan is retiring and Priebus left the administration last year.
LAURA KELLY, KANSAS GOVERNOR-ELECT
Meet Laura Kelly, the 68-year-old Democrat who beat back Republican Kris Kobach’s Trump-like hard line on immigration to become the state’s 48th governor.
Kelly wooed GOP moderates and independent voters in the governor’s race while Kobach concentrated only on his conservative base. She made the race a referendum on unpopular former Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s 2012-13 experiment in slashing income taxes, which left a hole in state finances. Most of the tax cuts were reversed last year.
She told her supporters Tuesday night that voters spoke “with a single, thunderous voice” in demanding bipartisanship.
A REPUBLICAN FLIPS A DEMOCRATIC SEAT
GOP candidate Jim Hagedorn won Minnesota’s 1st District seat in a close race that Republicans had targeted with hopes of hanging onto control of the House.
That didn’t happen — Democrats gained enough seats to grab the majority. But on his fourth try, Hagedorn, 56, won the district by just more than 1,300 votes, defeating Democratic candidate Dan Feehan, an Iraq War veteran.
Democratic Rep. Tim Walz had vacated the seat to run for governor, setting up an intense contest that drew nearly $15 million in outside spending.
Hagedorn is the son of former Rep. Tom Hagedorn, who once represented part of the same area.
OKLAHOMA ELECTED A DEMOCRAT
Kendra Horn, 42, has ridden a blue wave of support to upset Republican Rep. Steve Russell in Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District.
Tuesday’s vote makes Horn the first Democrat in more than 40 years to win the district, which includes downtown Oklahoma City, and it’s the first time the conservative state has been represented by a Democrat in Congress since 2013. Horn is an attorney and mediator.
SO DID SOUTH CAROLINA
Democrat Joe Cunningham is the first Democrat since 1978 to win this Charleston-area district in a state that’s voted for a Democratic presidential candidate only once since 1960.
The attorney and ocean engineer, 36, defeated Republican Katie Arrington despite Trump’s support and his 13-point win in the district in 2016. Arrington defeated former Rep. Mark Sanford, a former governor, in the GOP primary after Trump endorsed her. She blamed her loss on Sanford’s lack of support; Sanford says he rarely endorses in elections.
Cunningham’s opposition to drilling off the Atlantic coast earned him endorsements from several Republican mayors.
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